“Taking the oath, Janaka gave away Sita to Rama in all politeness and happiness in a beautiful scene that was reminiscent of when the king of mountains gave away Parvati to Shiva and when the ocean gave away Lakshmi to Vishnu.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 18.1)
सन्कल्पि सि रामहि समरपी सील सुख सोभामई |
जिमि सन्करहि गिरिराज गिरिजा हरिहि श्री सागर दई ||
sankalpi si rāmahi samarapī sīla sukha sobhāmaī |
jimi sankarahi girirāja girijā harihi śrī sāgara daī ||
Friend1: When a new child is born, what are some of the common goals and achievements the parents look for?
Friend2: With respect to the child?
Friend2: Does everyone think that far in advance?
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: At first, I would hope that the child is happy and healthy. I want them to eat and sleep without issue. Let them reach the proper milestones at a reasonable time.
Friend1: You mean like sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, and the like?
Friend2: Yes. Do not get sick very often, if at all. No long-term or chronic issues.
Friend1: Okay, but what about beyond that? You must think about their future, in how they will be as adults.
Friend1: In that category, what do parents commonly hope for?
Friend2: Hmm, that is tough to say, as we are all individuals. No two people are exactly alike, which means that you will find variety in desires.
Friend1: That is true. You are giving a more scientific definition. If you were completely honest, you would acknowledge that there are some common themes within this category.
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: Excellence in areas of opulence. Particularly, money.
Friend2: As in, you want the child to grow up to be wealthy?
Friend1: In a decent job. You don’t necessarily want them to win the lottery and get spoiled in the process. Earn an honest living, but with pride and honor. Be a distinguished member of society.
Friend2: Such as where you can proudly say that your son or daughter is a doctor or a lawyer?
Friend1: Exactly. That is what I was getting at.
Friend2: If you had an idea in mind from the beginning, why are you asking me?
Friend1: To use this as a transition for discussing the situation for the parents a long time ago who lived in the mountains.
Friend2: Who was that?
Friend1: To be more accurate, they were the mountains. This is Himavan, the mountain-king, and his wife.
Friend2: Oh, from Vedic literature?
Friend1: Yes. Their daughter was appropriately named Parvati.
Friend2: She came from the mountain. Another similar name for her is Girija.
Friend1: As is customary in Vedic culture, the parents heard the horoscope for the new child. These are general predictions on what will happen in the future, what kind of life the child can expect, and so forth.
Friend2: The child usually gets named within that process, like with Garga Muni visiting Nanda Maharaja in Gokula and naming the two children, Krishna and Balarama.
Friend1: The prediction for Parvati was austerity, penance, and marriage to someone who was totally renounced.
Friend2: The eka-patni vrata would hold true for Mahadeva. Parvati was the same Sati, who was previously married to Lord Shiva.
Friend1: If we translate into modern terms, this would be like learning your newborn daughter will grow up to be poor. She won’t be interested in enjoying sense pleasures. She will barely eat anything. She will be able to go months without food.
Friend2: All for the purpose of marrying a guy who walks around naked, smears ashes on his body, and hangs around ghosts and spirits.
Friend1: You can understand the concern of the parents, then.
Friend2: It makes for a wonderful injection of humor into the story. Goswami Tulsidas beautifully describes the case from beginning to end in his Ramacharitamanasa and Parvati Mangala.
Friend1: What is the proper reaction? Should the parents try to change destiny?
Friend2: It was a great honor for Himavan to have Parvati as his daughter. It was an even greater honor to later give her away in marriage to Mahadeva.
Friend1: As a parent, you have a link to the son-in-law, then?
Friend2: Goswami Tulsidas uses that marriage as a comparison for the beauty of the scene in Janaka’s city, when the king gave away his daughter. Sita married Rama, and it looked as wonderful as Parvati marrying Shiva and Lakshmi marrying Vishnu.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: It is understandable for parents to be worried. This concern dates to the beginning of time. Nothing has changed. If a parent sees that their child has an interest in Vedic literature at a young age, they may be inclined to take away the books. Just think how powerful the content must be.
Friend1: Because it will make the child consider renunciation?
Friend2: Exactly. Why should I work so hard just for sense enjoyment? Why should I waste precious time in a desperate hope to extend life, which is already destined for death? Why not follow the path of liberation?
Friend1: Right, but no parent wants their child to grow up to be a beggar.
Friend2: Austerity for the purpose of serving the Almighty is a wonderful fate. Blessed are the parents who bring such a person into this world.
Blessed tale to tell,
Sign of growing up well.
When sacrificed to Divine way,
And in liberation to stay.
Like Parvati destined to become,
In union with Mahadeva one.
Though fate at first disturbing,
Reserved for only most deserving.